Forex trading helps drive Singapore’s thriving economy and with no tax on capital gains, forex profits are unburdened for Singaporean traders, potentially providing even greater opportunity for gains than in other parts of the world.
Our favorite forex brokers
Best overall: IG Group
Best for ease of use: Oanda
Best for diversified traders: City Index
Best for focused traders: Forex.com
Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) regulation
As Singapore’s central bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) also oversees financial sector businesses, including forex brokers, and has the reputation of being one of the strictest regulators in the world. Similar to regulatory requirements in other regions of the world, MAS regulation requires that forex brokers segregate investor accounts from broker funds to help protect investors from broker insolvency risks or impropriety. Traders in Singapore will find that many of the leading forex brokers are global players that are also monitored by regulatory authorities in other parts of the world, such as the U.K.’s FCA and Cyprus’s CySEC.
Additional oversight for Singapore’s forex market is provided by the Singapore Foreign Exchange Market Committee, a panel comprised of both government authorities and representatives of private banks.
What is forex?
Forex, short for forex exchange and also called FX, is an integral part of all the products and services that come from a global economy. Forex is the exchange of one currency for another currency. International business travelers and tourists use forex when they exchange their base currency for the local currency when traveling — but that’s a small part of the forex market. Banks and corporations make up the lion’s share of forex trades, trading one currency for another to complete international transactions. Import and export are intrinsically tied to forex, helping to make forex the largest financial market in the world.
While businesses may trade in forex markets as a necessary part of purchasing products or material from other countries, forex trading is often much more than a utility. Price movements within one currency compared to another, called a currency pair, can create trading opportunities, and with no capital gains tax in Singapore, interest in forex trading is rapidly growing.
Understanding the forex market
Many forex trades use leverage to amplify market gains from price movements within a currency pair. Singapore joins a number of other countries, including the U.S., that significantly limit the amount of leverage available to traders. In other parts of the world, forex traders can leverage a trade up to 1:1000 or even higher. In Singapore, forex trades are limited to a maximum leverage of 1:50, with some currency pairs like USD/MXN that are limited further.
Lower leverage, while potentially limiting gains, can also reduce loss liabilities, helping well-capitalized traders to stay in a trade that may change to a more favorable direction and prevents traders from washing out entirely due to leveraged losses. At 1:50 leverage, a trader needs to have an account value equal to or greater than 2% of the trade. At 1:20 leverage, a maximum leverage for many FX currency pairs traded in Singapore, traders need to maintain an account balance of 5% or the trade.
Within a forex pair, the first currency is the base currency and the second currency is the quote. Profits or losses are based on price movements within the currency pair, but profits or losses aren’t realized until you exit the position. Overnight swap rates, which are charges based on the difference in interest rates for the two currencies, can add to the cost of the trade, although they might also be a credit to your account. Margin calls are another possible expense if the price movement brings your account value below the margin requirement for the trade, which can be as high as 8% for some currency pairs traded in Singapore. Margin calls can also lead to a forced liquidation of your position on a trade.
Because forex trades often involve large amounts of currency, most exchange rates are carried out to the fourth or fifth decimal place. In an exchange rate quote, the fourth decimal place (1/10,000 of a full currency unit) is called a percentage in point, or a PIP. The fifth decimal place is a pipette, a fractional pip. The Japanese yen diverges from this system, with the second decimal place being the pip and the 3rd the pipette.
Singapore to U.S. dollar
To calculate pip value, the value to you as a trader for a one-pip move, you can use an equation with just three elements:
1/10,000 (a pip) ÷ Exchange Rate x number of units = pip value
|Pip change||Exchange Rate||Units||Pip Value|
If the exchange rate (or bid) for SGD/USD is .7333 and you have a 10,000 unit order, each single pip move is worth about 1.36 SGD.
The Singapore Dollar (SGD) is regularly traded with all major currencies, including EUR, AUD, USD, and others. SGD represents about 1% of global forex trading volume, placing SGD in the top 15 currencies worldwide based on forex trading volume.
Forex lot sizes
Forex trading uses “lots” to standardize trading quantities. A standard lot is 100,000 units. Smaller trade quantities are also commonly used.
- Standard Lot = 100,000 units (1 lot)
- Mini Lot = 10,000 units (.1 lot)
- Micro Lot = 1,000 units (.01 lot)
- Nano Lot = less than 1,000 units (varies depending on quantity)
Not all brokers make nano lot trading available. Through leverage, micro lots or even mini lots are within reach for many traders.
Types of orders
Traders familiar with stock trading will be pleased to know that forex trading uses the same primary types of orders:
- Market order: fills your forex order at the best available price
- Limit order: fills your order only at a specific price and won’t execute if that price is not reached
- Stop order: sells your currency holdings at a specific price and won’t execute if that price is not reached
- Stop loss order: sells your forex order automatically at a specific price to avoid further losses
- Trailing stop: a stop loss order that automatically adjusts the selling price as you realize gains on a trade to protect a percentage of those gains if the market turns downward
Regulation by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and other agencies helps to reduce risk for forex traders by limiting leverage and by enforcing rules for brokers to keep investor funds segregated. However, as with all financial trades, traders still face risks to capital.
Exchange rate risk
Exchange rates can change rapidly, with leverage or high trade quantities making even small moves having a significant impact on the dollar value of the trade.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore limits leverage for forex trades in Singapore, but many currency pairs can still be leveraged up to 1:50, meaning traders can execute trades of up to 50 times the amount of capital they put up for the trade. With leverage, a small drop in the exchange rate for a currency pair can trigger a margin call or force a liquidation.
Currency prices within a forex pair can change rapidly, possibly creating a challenge for traders who wish to start or exit a position but find that the trading range has become less optimal for the intended trade.
Demand for currencies is often swayed by interest rate changes or even signs that may indicate to the market that an interest rate change can be expected.
The actions of a government can affect the value of a nation’s currency. As a specific example, a government can cause selling pressure for its currency if it fails to make debt payments or even if the market suspects a possible default.
Over the years, a number of forex brokers have become insolvent. The Monetary Authority of Singapore regulates brokers, but in a market that grants up to 1:50 leverage and in which prices can change in a instant, risk remains even if decreased.
Markets only work well if there are enough buyers and sellers. Thinly traded currencies or currencies for countries or regions that have had economic or political news that can change demand may find fewer buyers or sellers. In this case, a trader wishing to buy or sell may not be able to complete a desired trade at an ideal price.
How we made our selections
As one of the world’s leading forex markets, Singapore attracts forex brokers from all over the world. We looked at a number of key areas with an eye toward customer service, regulation, trade costs, trader tools, and trade execution.
Spreads: Unlike stock trading, many forex trades don’t require a commission for the trade. Instead, brokers make money from the spread between the bid and the ask price. Closer spreads generally mean the trader spends less in trading expenses, but other fees may apply, particularly for trades held overnight.
Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) regulation: Singapore’s central bank also regulates forex brokers as well as advises the Singaporean government on foreign exchange matters. As part of regulatory requirements for brokers, leverage is limited and investor funds must be kept separate from broker funds.
Cash management: It’s important for traders to be able to fund their accounts easily and to move money back out of accounts when needed. Ease of cash management allows for more nimble trading, as is often appropriate for forex trading.
Trader tools: Modern forex trading benefits from charting tools to help traders understand markets and demo accounts that allow traders to test trading strategies with no risk. An expansive learning center and an up-to-date news feed also put the tools a trader needs on the trading dashboard.
Customer support: If questions arise or if there is a problem with the platform, it’s important that traders can reach support staff easily to get answers or seek a resolution.
Best overall: IG Group
Established in 1974, IG meets the trading needs of over 185,000 customers worldwide and offers access to over 15,000 markets. The large number of markets is due to IG’s massive offering of CFDs (Contracts for Difference) in a wide range of asset classes. Of course, IG offers forex spot trading as well, with 91 currency pairs available for traders.
IG’s trading platform runs in your browser, on your desktop, or on your mobile when you’re on the go. Virtual trading is available, allowing traders to test out trades without risking capital and then take those winning strategies to future trades. An expansive learning center shares IG’s wealth of knowledge through webinars, videos, and insightful articles.
About IG’s Education Suite:[embedded content]
Best for ease of use: Oanda
Oanda’s goal is to make forex trading accessible to traders of all levels while providing a fair and transparent platform. Free market tools like market news and a trading education center welcome new traders and help experienced traders stay informed.
Oanda prides itself on its proprietary v20 trading engine which is fully automated and promises that no algorithm software will alter your trades.
Over 100 financial instruments can be traded with Oanda, including currency pairs, indices, commodities, bonds, and metals, allowing traders to diversify or to channel forex profits into other types of trades.
Best for diversified traders: City Index
Founded in 1983, City Index is a publicly traded broker regulated by a number of agencies worldwide, including Singapore’s MAS. This time-tested broker offers forex spot trading with 65 currency pairs as well as 10,000 CFDs for traders who want to trade in other asset classes, which include cryptocurrencies and indices.
Charting indicators include 139 that can help point technical traders to winning trades and apps that are available for Android and iOS.
Educational materials are on par with the best in the industry, including interactive webinars, videos, research tools, news, and articles.
Best for focused traders: Forex.com
Since 1999, Forex.com has been a trusted name in the FX market. With regulation in nearly every major market, including the U.S., U.K. and Singapore, that trust is well-placed.
Technical traders will be pleased to find 139 technical indicators, matching the extensive offering of City Index. New or intermediate traders will find an education center packed with information and learning materials.
As expected from a leader in the industry, a demo account allows traders to build test trades in a simulated environment, preserving their capital for tested trading tactics. In our roundup, only Forex.com and Oanda offered backtesting, a tool that allows traders to test a strategy against historical market conditions.
As the largest financial market in the world, trading opportunities abound with forex and Singapore’s traders are in the heart of one of the world’s leading forex trading centers. With no capital gains tax on trading profits, forex traders in Singapore have an advantage over traders in the U.S. and much of Europe, allowing a higher effective return on trades.
MAS has published an investor alert list of forex brokers that may be wrongly perceived as being listed or authorized by MAS. This list is useful for confirming MAS regulation designed to provide essential trading protections for Singapore’s growing forex community.
Traders are encouraged to do their own research and due diligence in choosing a broker. Any of the brokers in our roundup can be a great starting point, each with their own advantages and unique focus for traders.